21st February, 1929


(Due to arrive Canberra 21.3.29)

My dear P.M.,

Hankey's [1] power to influence policy in this country has been most strikingly shown by the course of the Belligerent Rights discussions in these last several months. He has nursed the subject, coaxed and argued with recalcitrants, and has brought them all out the other end-all but Cushendun [2]-in favour of presenting a firm but tactful upper lip to the Americans and maintaining the sanctity of high Belligerent Rights.

I am getting together material for another letter to you on the important subject of Coast Defence, in which, with the help of friends in several departments, I am trying to reduce the subject to simple terms. It will probably go to you in a fortnight.

I called by arrangement on Lord Reading [3] at his office at Imperial Chemical Industries in this week, solely with the idea of making contact with him and the Mond [4] organisation. Their new office building on the Embankment is very wonderful. My visit was as much like calling on an Emperor as one is likely to experience in these democratic days. He was very courteous and told me something about their organisation and activities. He said that Todhunter [5] (an I.C.I. director) was in Australia at present. He was glad to know of the possibility of communicating confidentially with you through my office.

I am in close touch with Mawson. [6] He is rather tactless and very jealous of having his thunder stolen, but I can get on with him quite well and am doing my best to help him.

There is one essential point, however, that you will need to impress on him very firmly before the expedition sets out-and that is that, in reality, their first and foremost duty is to chart the coast, to plant flags and to secure the terrain so that all doubt will be set at rest as to the sovereignty. If he fails in this, or does it cursorily, the job will have to be done all over again.

His mind is set on scientific achievement, with which everyone will be in accord, but the political objective has the first claim, although it need not take up a great deal of his time.

We are on the verge of deciding to build a house in Westminster, which may sound to you rather a harebrained proposal. We have toothcombed most of the areas in which we would like to live and have found nothing suitable. We have lived too long in temporary houses and very much want a permanent headquarters. If we have to go away we can let it.

I am following with trepidation and great interest the press reports of the political vicissitudes that you are going through.

With best wishes, I am, Yours sincerely, R.G. CASEY

1 Sir Maurice Hankey, Secretary to the Cabinet.

2 Lord Cushendon, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, had been (as Ronald McNeill) Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs 1922-24.

3 Lord Reading (formerly Rufus Isaacs) had been, inter alia, Lord Chief Justice 1913-21 and Viceroy of India 1921-26.

4 Lord Melchett (formerly Sir Alfred Mond) was Chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd. His daughter had married Lord Reading's son.

5 Benjamin Todhunter, a working director of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd, was in Australia to establish a subsidiary of I.C.I.

6 Sir Douglas Mawson, in Britain to rouse interest in his forthcoming Antarctic expedition, was irritated to find that fellow-Australian polar explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins had cut a considerable figure in London.